Step 1: Choose & Purchase Your Domain
First things first! You need a domain name (address of your website).
So it sounds simple right? Start by choosing your domain. Except that it is an important choice that will affect how your customers and potential customers find you. Regardless of the type of business you have, do not just keyword stuff a domain and think that will put you ahead of the competition. It will likely have the opposite effect with today’s modern and sophisticated search engines unless it is part of your business name and brand.
There are a lot of domain name registrars out there, such as NameCheap. We have used and recommended them for many years and never had an issue. Most will have a domain search that can also help you in your creation process as it can be frustrating to choose something and find out it isn’t available. And don’t forget to check social media handles for conflicts. There are a lot of domain name generators that can help you in your search to find the perfect domain name & ideas. Checking these now will help your marketing efforts later.
5 key elements for Choosing Your Domain Name
Keep it short and simple!
If you have a one word business name – use it. It ties with your Brand, even if you are just starting to build it, and avoids confusion. Keeping it short is important, when you consider every page and post will add to the length of their urls. So if you start with a long domain, it is going to make all your work harder for the rest of your website pages.
Hot tip – Is your business name or domain more than one word? When choosing your domain make sure to read it as one word. Does it still mean what you want it to mean?
Avoid Hyphens & Numbers
I know it is tempting to use a hyphen when someone else already has the url you want, but don’t do it. Adding characters and numbers to your domain might seem like a good idea and theoretically make you unique, but mostly it just makes it harder for your potential visitor to type into their mobile device if they are trying to go to your website. If you make it difficult for them, they may just find something else simpler.
Dangers of Funny Spelling
The tread to alternative spelling for common words can lead you into trouble. I’m not talking about Business names that create a unique name that plays off the service they provide, but for example using ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’. It can create confusion for your customer. This is the same for misspellings. You might know that it is a common misspelling and think it will give you an Search Engine Optimization edge, but do you want the first impression of your business to be a mistake? Even if it is deliberate?
Check a potential trademark!
Even if you don’t plan to trademark yourself (although I recommend you do), you don’t want to build a brand only to discover someone else holds a trademark and you lose all of that hard work. A quick check can save you a lot of headaches down the round.
Finally, make sure it is easy to pronounce and understand.
This seems simple again, but you’d be surprised. Our ‘done for you’ agency is called ThinkFlame. A play on ‘ideas on fire’. Seems straightforward right? Easy to spell and easy to say … but apparently easily misheard when on the phone. Now we still love our brand but despite all of our preparations, we deal with having to spell out our name on the phone all of the time. For us, it is a small annoyance for a brand we love.
Domain names can get snapped up by others, so once you have chosen, go get it as soon as possible.
Now that you have your domain registration, time to look at hosting.
Step 2: Purchase Hosting
My preference is hosting plans that are separate from your Domain registrar, but you can combine them if you wish. Most domain registrars like NameCheap offer hosting and most hosting companies, like Siteground, offer to register your domain. I prefer not to have all of my eggs in one basket, but I understand the pull of convenience.
When you look for a good host, there are some key items to consider:
- What kind of support they give? Your website is up or should be 24/7, so make sure the support matches your needs.
- What kind of security they have? Bot and other malicious attacks are the new normal and your host needs to have elements in place to keep your website as secure as possible.
- What kind of speed can they supply? Some of this is not within their control as it will depend on how you optimize your WordPress website, but they should be able to provide.
- Can they grow with you? It might not seem like something that is important when you are just getting started. But choosing a host that can scale with your needs can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
If you are a small business just starting out, it is highly unlikely you would need a dedicated server. So don’t jump into a very expensive option that is bigger than you need.
Now one of the things I didn’t include on this list was email. Most hosts have email options included or for an extra fee, but there are often limitation and if you move hosts, moving that history can be extremely painful. We use Google WorkSpace for that reason.
There is a fee per user, which depends on which level you get, but it connects easily with any host and you never have to worry about losing any data. We do have a discount code if you are considering that option; all you have to do is ask!
These are two that we or our clients have had good experiences with:
- Siteground – I recommend the GrowBig plan as it has more space and is faster.
- BlueHost – if you are blogging and actively building the site, I recommend the plus account. Again this is about space, speed, and getting the extras like built in SSL certificates.
There are many other options out there, but these are two we have positive experiences with and currently use.
We have created a checklist of the basics you need to cover when starting your WordPress website and you can download it from the form below.